After a nice, lazy morning we decided that in the afternoon we really should brave the boiling elements and see atleast one of Delhi’s hundreds of sights site. With so many to choose from – we diplomatically chose the closest – the Qutb Minar!
The Qutb Minar (also spelled Qutab or Qutub, Urdu: قطب منار), is a tower in Delhi that at 72.5 meters (237.8 ft) is the world’s tallest brick minaret. Construction commenced in 1193 under the orders of India’s first Muslim ruler Qutb-ud-din Aibak, and the topmost storey of the minaret was completed in 1386 by Firoz Shah Tughluq. The Qutb Minar is notable for being one of the earliest and most prominent examples of Indo-Islamic architecture.
The complex initially housed twenty-seven ancient Jain temples which were destroyed and their material used in the construction of the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque next to the Qutb Minar
It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Delhi, and was also India’s most visited monument in 2006, as it attracted 3.9 million visitors (more people than are in Brisbane!) even more than the Taj Mahal, which drew about 2.5 million visitors. I know it’s off season but have still been suprised at only very occasionally seeing other westerners – the market for domestic tourism here is HUGE! It’s wonderful that the Indian people are so interested in their incredible history and diverse cultures. Though sometimes it seems as if they stare more at me (the strange mousy brown/orange haired, pale skinned creature) than at the sights 🙂 But to be fair, i find myself staring straight back as i’m equally fascinated by them!
The nearby Iron Pillar is one of the world’s foremost metallurgical curiosities, standing in the famous Qutb complex. The pillar, which weighs more than six tons, is said to have been fashioned at the time of Chandragupta Vikramaditya (375–413 BC), though some authorities give dates as early as 912 BC!!!! The pillar initially stood in the centre of a Jain temple complex housing twenty-seven temple. It is 98% pure wrought iron, and is a testament to the high level of skill achieved by ancient Indian blacksmiths. It has attracted the attention of both archaeologists and metallurgists, as it has withstood corrosion for over 1,600 years in the open air! According to the traditional belief, anyone who can encircle the entire column with their arms, with their back towards the pillar, can have their wish granted. Because of the corrosive qualities of sweat the government has built a fence around it for safety. I didn’t mind as really, i don’t need any wishes granted – i am the luckiest person i know!